Second phase of Project BOOST begins, aims to improve technological resources

By Shira Kipnees, staff writer ||

Project BOOST (Building On Opportunities for Streamlined Technology), which was launched in January 2012 to upgrade the College’s software systems, has now moved into Phase II, which is expected to be mostly complete by late 2015. This project is meant to modernize the computer systems that manage F&M’s student and academic information, human resources, and finances.

According to Jay Eckles, director of Information Technology Services’ Enterprise Systems and Web Services, Phase II will build off the work of Phase I and improve student, faculty, and staff experiences with self-service tools. Aspects of Phase I included replacing MyDiplomat with Inside F&M, and incorporating Degree Works.

“We expect to greatly enhance our ability to provide reports and data for decision-makers,” said Eckles. “We’re going to set up an electronic document filing system and, in the process, streamline a few back office processes. Finally, we’re going to be removing our final dependencies on the legacy system.”

Eckles also explained that there are 20 different projects scheduled to be completed in Phase II. Phase II will cover a wide range of enterprise technology at the College, including a redesign of Inside F&M along with a project that is already underway to redesign the web site.

“A couple projects of note are Student Retention Performance, a package of analytical tools that will help the college identify factors that contribute to student success, and Banner Document Management, a system that will allow offices who choose to use it to scan, electronically file, and retrieve documents in their web browser rather than maintain physical files,” Eckles said.

The systems the College had before Project BOOST were 25 years old and were supported continuously by decades of custom application development by F&M employees. However, the BOOST Steering Team knew it would take a long time to replace the functionality of old systems, so the project was broken up into different phases in order to have a more easily managed and successful transition.

Eckles noted it is too early to know what the timeline for the third phase of Project BOOST would be, but the College is constantly finding ways to improve campus information systems.

“In reality, whether we call it ‘Project BOOST’ or not, we’ll always be paying attention to our campus-wide information systems, findings ways to improve them, and supporting offices and departments in adapting to new ways of working,” Eckles said.

According to Eckles, the biggest changes the F&M community will see during Phase II are to Inside F&M and the self-service tools linked to it, such as online course registration for students, online class rosters for faculty, and online benefits enrollment for employees.

“We’re aiming to make meaningful improvements in how these tools are organized, how you find them, how they look, and how they work,” Eckles said.

                

Junior Shira Kipnees is a staff writer. Her email is skipnees@fandm.edu.

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